The offense carried its momentum from a strong showing in a preseason battle against the Washington Redskins into today’s morning practice. The quarterbacks were accurate and connected on several big strikes downfield. The receivers showed the ability to defeat press coverage and were able to gain separation.
Here are other key observations and notes from today’s morning session:
· Formations and Fronts: The offense primarily operated from the gun, and aired it early and often during 11-on-11 drills. The formation of choice was a three-wide, one tight and one back look.
Defensively, one of the best calls came in the red area, when eight defenders dropped into coverage and only three players rushed. The play resulted in an interception, as there was nowhere for the quarterback to go with the football. This is one of the hallmark defensive plays from the Rex Ryan playbook, and it was nice to see it implemented again in the red zone.
· Who Stood Out?
– Yamon Figurs: With Marcus Smith on the mend, Figurs has the chance to regain his footing in the wideout competition. The speedy receiver made two pinpoint catches. During 1-on-1 drills, Figurs went up in the air to snag a high pass in the end zone. On a go-route, Figurs was able to outrun the corner to the football.
– Evan Oglesby: Oglesby had virtually no chance to make the team and now he may end up being one of the first players to hit the chopping block. The backup cornerback was toasted consistently by Yamon Figurs and Justin Harper.
– Joe Reitz: The second-year tackle from Western Michigan handled blindside duties and was rarely beaten. Reitz has a long extension and proper hand placement. He was able to consistently stymie rookie William VanDeSteeg. Compared to Oniel Cousins, Reitz appears to be a more natural left tackle who can hold the edge.
– Kelly Washington: Washington was another receiver who made plays for the offense, especially in the long game. During 7-on-7 drills, Washington was able to track down and run underneath a slightly overthrown Joe Flacco pass. The most impressive part of the play was that Washington was able to get by Fabian Washington. The free agent receiver also showed his prowess as a gunner. Washington used his elusiveness to better find a gap to split the double team in punt coverage. He may be a better fit to replace Marcus Smith in that role than the other receivers on the team.
· Scouting the Rookies
o Jayson Foster: At 5-foot-7, the rookie from Georgia Southern looks more like a short point-guard than a wideout. However, despite being a shorter player, Foster has a strong build. What he brings to the table is tremendous quickness and shiftiness. In 1-on-1 drills, Foster displayed that quickness when he ran a perfect double slant-and-go, leaving cornerback Chris Carr in his wake. If Foster continues to be a gamebreaker, he could find his way onto the practice squad.
· The UDFA Corner
o William VanDeSteeg understands consistency proves that he is not as wide-eyed as most rookies. Despite having pass-rushing responsibility from a two-point stance, he made sure to bump the tight end at the line before he rushed upfield. That was a veteran move.
Other Rookie Notes
– If Paul Kruger wants to become an elite pass-rusher, he must understand how to use his hands to disengage blocks. On an inside stunt, the big rookie from Utah did a nice job of plugging the middle but he stopped using his hands to knock the linemen off balance. To have a better understanding of when to use certain moves to get off of a block and beat a blocker off of his spot, Kruger need only look at tape of the man he has replaced in the lineup. Terrell Suggs has one of the most active set of hands in the NFL.
– Corner Lardarius Webb and second-year wideout Justin Harper have been two of the standout performers in training camp, and the two squared off during 1-on-1 drills. The showdown ended up going in Webb’s favor. On two separate plays, Webb was beaten underneath, but he had the makeup speed to close on the ball in a hurry, get his hand up and disrupt Harper just enough to cause a drop. Harper was so disgusted that he kicked the ball after he dropped a second catchable pass.